Tuesday, September 27, 2016

FamilySearch Find: Adoption of Walter in 1911

Orphanage from The Pittsburgh Catholic,
April 17, 1924
With the help of a digitized collection of adoptions on FamilySearch, I was able to find additional facts to support my thinking that one of my Pittsburgh cousins was adopted. This file doesn't appear on the site's list of published collections and can only be browsed, but "Index to adoption and change of name, Allegheny County (Pennsylvania), 1865-1917" was a key piece of my research.

Walter J. Klein first appeared with his parents in the 1920 census at age 16. Since Andrew & Magdalena were childless in 1910 (when Walter was 6 years old), I suspected that he had been adopted between 1910 and 1920. But how could I know for sure?

When I was scanning FamilySearch's catalog of records for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, I came across the adoption collection. While it's just an index of the court records, I did find an Andrew Klein who had adopted a child. The date was November 23, 1911, but no name for the child was provided in the index. Since Andrew Klein isn't an uncommon name, I couldn't assume he was my Andrew. And in order to find Walter in the index, I would need his surname prior to being adopted by the Kleins.

I used the 1910 census to provide me with a list of possible candidates. In Ancestry, I searched for everyone with the first name of Walter who also:
  • was born in Pennsylvania between 1903 and 1905, 
  • was living in Allegheny or nearby counties in 1910, and 
  • was shown as an "inmate," which was often used on census records to describe an orphan's relationship to the head of household. 
There were 7 matches.

I then went back to the adoption index at FamilySearch and searched for each orphan. When I got to Walter Miller, I found that name in the index. Walter John Miller was the name of the adopted child, and the decree was dated November 23, 1911, exactly like Andrew Klein. Bingo! I still need to verify that they are my Andrew and Walter, but it looks very promising.

All I know at this point is that Walter J. Miller was a Pittsburgh orphan in 1910 and lived at St. Michael's Orphan Asylum, which was an orphanage established to take care of the orphans of St. Michael's parish on the South Side. When he was about 7 years old, he was adopted by Andrew & Magdalena Klein and became Walter J. Klein. (Again, I need to verify this last statement.)

I would love to know Walter's story. Who were his biological parents, what happened to them, and did he have any siblings?  Pittsburgh births are also browseable on FamilySearch and provide parent names, but I haven't found Walter's birth record yet. The Diocese of Pittsburgh may have records for his orphanage, so that's another place that might provide the identities of his parents. The search continues...

Related Posts:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Do you have a genealogy problem or need guidance on where to search next? Send me a message if you'd like me to help!